If I were to ask you what would be worse, to give your children cotton candy or poison, what would you say? In answer to this question most people would very quickly say that poison would be the worse thing to give our children. But consider this, what if all we gave our children to eat was cotton candy? What if cotton candy was their favorite food and that was all they wanted, and any time they received anything else they would throw a fit? Would we only give them cotton candy? Would we be loving and concerned parents if we only fed our children this cottony pile of sugar? Most assuredly not! We understand that our children could not survive only on sugar, for they would soon grow weak and sick, and would soon die. So, what is worse for us to give our children, only cotton candy or poison? The truth is that both will eventually kill our children.
Now let us make a spiritual application. Is it worse to teach in the Lord’s church false doctrine or to teach simple pleasant truths from God’s word? In answer to this question most people would quickly say that false doctrine would be the worst thing of all to teach. But consider this, what if we only taught concerning the loving story of Ruth, or about benevolence, or about the need for loving families, or about the need to feel good about ourselves? Now these are topics that we should be concerned about and are issues of interest, and should be taught. But, can a Christian survive spiritually solely on this kind of diet? Can a child of God mature and be grounded in the faith solely on these kinds of meals? The answer is no!
There are many preachers and teachers in the Lord’s church who are not teaching error, but neither are they being distinct in their preaching and teaching. Many are given more to proclaim what the brethren want to hear than what they need to hear. Concerning the people of Isaiah’s day, the Lord declared, “For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of Jehovah; that say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:9-10). Many today are clamoring for the same things as the Israel of old – smooth things, and sweet and pleasant words. And what is even more disturbing are the preachers and teachers who are giving into their cry with sermons and lessons filled with nothing but “lovey-dovey mush.”
Many preach to please men and tickle their ears with what they like to hear. Paul said, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). Paul warned Timothy about people who have “itching ears” and warned that such people will gather around those who will scratch their ears by teaching lies (2 Tim. 4:3-4). The whole counsel of God must be preached, regardless of how it is received (Acts 20:26-27)! The truth is truth and must be preached! I didn’t write the book (Bible) and have no right to “water it down” to please men.
The apostle Paul declared, “I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly, and from house to house…Wherefore I testify unto you this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:20, 26-27). If we really care for our families and brethren the actions of Paul will be true of us! Furthermore, Paul also said, “Preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). You will notice that good gospel preaching demands positive and negative proclamation of truth. But as already mentioned, some “will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). But we must not allow this attitude to influence us away from preaching the whole counsel of God.
We have too many “cotton candy preachers and teachers” in the brotherhood who are “sugar coating” the brethren into spiritual decay! Tell me, which are worse, false teachers or cotton candy preachers? The truth is they both will cause the spiritual demise of their listeners. Beloved, our preaching and teaching must be true to the Book, straight forward without apologies, address the spiritual needs of the people, encourage the faint hearted, rebuke sin, and loving set forth the whole counsel of God.
Will you help me in this effort? Will you be as Jeremiah who said that the word of God “was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay [or, I could not hold it back]” (Jer. 20:9). May we all feed the brethren a well balanced diet from the word of God!